Rugger. Clemente. Raimondi. Cobb. Paige.
Last month, Bay Area baseball legend and mainstay, Rugger Ardizoia passed away at the age of 95. Rugger’s popularity had risen in the last few years due to being the oldest living member of the New York Yankees. This is in addition to being the last living member of the San Francisco Mission Reds of the old Pacific Coast League, which lead to me meeting him in 2012. He will be missed and I have to admit that I was legitimately sad when I learned of his passing.
Back in April, The New York Times wrote THIS article on Rugger and after his death, SFGate wrote THIS. I suggest reading both if you like old baseball stories and are interested in the life of Rugger.
The Pirates battled the Yankees in the 1960 World Series, which ended with Bill Mazeroski‘s famous game winning home run in Game 7. It also produced this incredible color photo of an at-bat by Roberto Clemente at old Forbes Field, with Yogi Berra behind the plate. (Photo Source: It’s a Long Season via Sports Illustrated)
A great photo of Earl Torgeson of the Seattle Rainiers sliding into home plate under the tag of Oakland Oaks’ catcher, Billy Raimondi. Due to never playing in the big leagues, many people are not aware of who Billy Raimondi, and that’s a shame.
What everyone should know about him is that he was a Bay Area baseball legend, who spent 21 of his 22 years of professional baseball in the PCL, with the majority of them with the Oaks. In fact, he played more seasons in the PCL than any other non-pitcher and is a member of the league’s Hall of Fame. Baseball: Past and Present wrote about Raimond after his death back in 2010 and it’s definitely worth reading. Check it out HERE. (Photo Source: SportsPressNW)
I recently came across this incredible photo of Ty Cobb, during his time with the Philadelphia A’s, stealing home against the Red Sox. Grover Hartley looks like he’s somewhat attempting to put the tag on Cobb, but by his body language, it looks like he wanting nothing to do with his cleats. I think it’s safe to say that The Georgia Peach was safe. (Photo Source: Detroit Free Press)
When I came across this photo, it caught me off guard. It was labeled as “Satchel Paige pitching during the 1961 Negro American League All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.” At first, I thought this was odd, as I had no idea Paige had pitched in any Negro League game (official or exhibition) at this point in his life. Hell, I thought the Negro Leagues were pretty much said and done by 1960. Well, it turns out I was both right and wrong as there was an East-West All-Star Game held in both 1961 and 1962, even though official games and seasons ceased to exist at this point. In all likelihood, the 1961 and 1962 games were probably held by the remaining owners as a way to squeeze the last drop of money out of Negro League baseball.
In regards to the 1961 game, Paige pitched 3 scoreless innings for the West team, who beat the East team to a score of 7 to 1. The 55 year old pitching legend was rewarded with the win and wore a Chicago American Giants uniform while doing so. The Chicago uniform is interesting though, considering he only pitched there for a minimal amount of time. I assume someone paid him well to wear the Chicago uniform? In any case, his performance caused the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League to call for his services, where he signed a contract to finish the 1961 season in Portland. He ended up pitching 25 innings with the Beavers and accumulated a respectable 2.88 ERA. Not bad for an old man.
In 2010, Philly.com wrote about the 1961 game HERE, however the author was under the assumption that this was the last Negro League game, which was not the case as I noted above. The last game happened a year later at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, where the East beat the West, 5 to 2. Unfortunately, as far as I know, Paige did not pitch in this game.